A new chewing gum that can trap COVID-19 viral cells in your mouth and prevent the spread of the disease was announced by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
How Does It Work?
In test-tube experiments using the saliva of individuals infected with COVID-19, the virus attached itself to plant-grown proteins in the chewing gum and the viral load fell to undetectable levels. Researchers are now preparing to launch the first human trial.
Viruses like COVID-19 spread on droplets produced in the body’s salivary glands. When sick people cough, sneeze and even talk, the virus sprays out to potentially infect other people.
COVID Breakthrough or Too Good to Be True?
File virus-trapping gum in the too-good-to-be-true file, said a Hartford HealthCare infectious disease specialist.
Dr. Ulysses Wu, medical director of infectious disease at Hartford HealthCare, said the virus reproduces so quickly the gum would not be effective.
“Millions of viral particles replicate over the period of 10 days,” said Dr. Wu, referring to the infectious period of COVID-19. “It is unlikely this gum will be able to neutralize all of it. I don’t know how much promise this holds.”
Tried and True Alternatives to COVID Gum
Instead, Wu suggested other tried and true methods for curbing virus spread. Mask wearing when indoors, hand washing and maintaining distance have all proven effective.
“We still should encourage individual masking indoors,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recording an average of 124,000 cases of COVID-19 each day in the United States. Vaccination efforts have helped curb the number of fatalities and cases of severe infection, but transmission still remains a concern.